Tag Archives: Brexit

EU Planning 5 Billion Euro Defense Fund in Wake of Trump and Brexit

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The European Union (EU) has unveiled its biggest defense funding and research plan in more than a decade in a bid to reverse billions in cuts and in turn to send a message to US President-elect Donald Trump that it wants to pay for its own security.

The main proposal is an investment fund for defense that would allow EU governments that pay in to also borrow from it. In a move to revitalize defense cooperation, the European Commission has proposed a 5 billion euro (US $5.3 billion) fund in order to let governments club together to purchase new helicopters and planes to lower costs. EU officials have disclosed that another plan is to let the EU’s common budget and its development bank invest in military research. This move would open the door to new drones, cyber warfare systems and other hi-tech gear. Some EU officials have conceded that bigger EU countries, like Germany which has one of the world’s largest defense industries, stand to gain most from the Commission’s proposals with smaller nations being at a greater risk of losing business.

European Commission Vice President Jyri Katainen has disclosed “this is not about an EU army, this is not about spending on the military instead of social security…We face multiplying threats and we must act,” stressing that all assets developed would belong to national governments.

Currently no details on how the bloc plans to persuade member states to move away from the current system, where many pursue their own defense projects favouring local manufactures and duplicating efforts, have been released. Accoridng to European Commission data, the bloc has nineteen types of armoured infantry fighting vehicle, compared with one in the United States. Wasted funds amount to 25 billion euros a year.

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Downing Street: “Very Likely” that MPs Will Vote on Final Brexit Agreement

Posted on in Brexit title_rule


Downing Street has reported that it is “very likely” that MPs will be able to vote on the final Brexit agreement, which will be reached between the United Kingdom and the European Union (EU).

During the High Court hearing, government lawyer James Eadie QC moved on to what was likely to happen at the end of the negotiations in 2019, stating: “The government view at the moment is it is very likely that any such agreement will be subject to ratification.” When asked about this, Downing Street stated that “it is the government view that is being represented.” Norman Smith has indicated that the latest government comments have raised the possibility that any deal negotiated by Prime Minister Theresa May could be rejected by Parliament. The three-day High Court hearing is due to end on 19 October.

Sources however have disclosed that the government’s move to allow a vote after an agreement has been negotiated with the EU was unlikely to satisfy critics of Prime Minister May’s approach to Brexit. Many are pressing for a parliamentary vote before the prime minister begins negotiations next spring, however Mrs May opposes this, stating that ministers should decide when to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which officials begin the two years of talks. The government is currently fighting a legal case over whether parliament should have a vote before Article 50 is triggered.

The UK is expected to leave the EU in 2019 and the agreement reached is expected to deal with migration controls and whether the UK remains in the single market. In a referendum held in June, UK voters opted in favor of leaving the EU by 51.9% to 48.1%.

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French President Announces that Country will Shut Down “Jungle” Migrant Camp

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On 26 September, French President Francois Hollande stated that France will completely shut down “the Jungle” migrant camp in Calais and called on London to help deal with the plight of thousands of people whose dream is ultimately to get to Britain.

Speaking during a visit to the northern port city, where as many as 10,000 migrants from war-torn countries like Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria live in squalor, President Hollande stated that “the situation is unacceptable and everyone here knows it,” adding, “we must dismantle the camp completely and definitively.”   While France is planning to relocate the migrants in small groups across the country, right-wing opponents of the Socialist leader are raising the heat ahead of next year’s election, accusing the French leader of mismanaging a problem that is ultimately a British one.

While the migrants in Calais want to enter Britain, the UK government is arguing that migrants seeking asylum need to do so under European Union (EU) law in the country where they enter. Immigration was one of the main drivers of Britain’s vote in June to leave the EU, and it is likely that the issue will be a major factor in France’s presidential election next year. If France stopped trying to prevent migrants from entering Britain, Britain would ultimately find itself obliged to deal with the matter when asylum-seekers land on its shores a short distance by ferry or subsea train from France’s Calais coast. President Hollande reminded Britain of this, stating that he expects London to fully honour agreements on managing the flow of migrants. London and Paris have struck agreements on issues such as the recently begun construction of a giant wall on the approach road to Calais port in an attempt to try to stop migrants who attempt daily to board cargo trucks that are bound for Britain.

In response to Monday’s comments by the French leader, a British government spokesman stated that “what happens in the Jungle is ultimately a matter for the French authorities, what they choose to do with it.” The spokesman further disclosed that “our position is very clear: we remain committed to protecting the shared border that we have in Calais,” adding, ‘the work that we do with France to maintain the security of that border goes on and will go on, irrespective of what happens to the Jungle camp.”

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UK and France Pledge Co-Operation on Migration Issue in Calais

Posted on in France, Migration, United Kingdom title_rule

The United Kingdom and France have pledged to work together and to “step up” moves to improve the migrant situation in Calais, France.

A statement released shortly after UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd met with her French counterpart Bernard Cazeneuve indicates that both countries would resolve the situation through “close co-operation,” adding that the UK and France would also further secure the port and tunnel in the city.

In the statement, France and the UK further agreed to:

  • Bear down on the organized crime gangs exploiting the vulnerable. In 2015, twenty-eight criminal networks were disrupted while since the beginning of this year, an additional 28 have been disrupted.
  • Address the humanitarian challenges in Calais as around 7,000 migrants are now present, including 5,000 who are without housing.
  • Work together in order to return illegal migrants in Calais who are not in need of protection.
  • Further secure the port. A total of 100 million Euros have already been provided by British authorities to reinforce security while French authorities have been providing 1,000 police day and night to prevent intrusion. This scheme has just been recently reinforced by an additional 160 officers.

Ms Rudd and Mr Cazeneuve further disclosed that “the two countries recognize the humanitarian situation in Calais that affects both countries and the need to stop up joint efforts to improve the situation in Calais.”

The show of unity follows calls to allow migrants to lodge UK asylum claims on French soil, something that a source at the Home Office has dismissed as a “complete non-starter.” On 29 August, Xavier Bertrand, the president of the Hauts-de-France region where Calais is located, disclosed that Calais migrants should be allowed to lodge UK asylum claims in France. Under the 2003 Le Touquet agreement between France and the UK, Britain can carry out checks in Calais on people heading to the UK while French officials can do the equivalent in Dover. Mr Bertrand however has stated that he wanted a “new treatment” for asylum seekers trying to get to the UK, adding that people living in the Calais camp known as the Jungle should be able to apply at a “hotspot” in France rather than waiting to reach Britain. He added that those who failed would be deported directly to their country of origin. Under the current rules, which is known as the Dublin Regulation, refugees must register in the first European country that they reach. This country usually takes charge of their asylum claim. While Mr Bertrand does not have the power to change the treaty, some of the candidates looking to win next year’s presidential election in France, including former President Nicolas Sarkozy, agree with him that it should either be reformed or scrapped.

The Jungle camp in Calais, which has about 7,000 people living there, has become the focal point of France’s refugee crisis. Many attempt to reach the UK by hiding inside vehicles entering the nearby port and the Channel Tunnel. Debate over border controls was a key issue during the EU referendum campaign. At the time, former prime minister David Cameroon claimed that the Jungle could move to England if the UK left the EU. However jest weeks after the warning, the then-PM and French President Francois Holland agreed a “mutual commitment” to keep it in place. After the Brexit vote, new UK Prime Minister Theresa May and President Hollande have reiterated that commitment.

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UK Government Announces it will “Push Ahead” with Brexit

Posted on in Brexit title_rule

Downing Street reported on 31 August that the UK government will “push ahead” to triggering Brexit without Parliamentary approval.

In a statement released shortly after Prime Minister Theresa May’s cabinet gathered at Chequers, Number 10 disclosed that ministers had agreed on the need for a “unique” deal for the UK. Downing Street has reported that this includes controls on EU migration as well as a “positive outcome” on trade. Mrs May told cabinet colleagues that the UK would not stay in the EU “by the back door,” adding that official talks with th rest of the EU will not begin this year. Mrs May also told ministers that the government was clear that “Brexit means Brexit,” adding, “we will be looking at the next steps that we need to take and we will also be looking at the opportunities that are now open to us as we forge a new role for the UK in the world.”

The meeting at the PM’s country resident was billed as the most significant since the referendum vote on 23 June and came amidst reports of tensions and diverging priorities amongst key figures in the Cabinet who have been charged with implementing the UK’s exit from the EU. Prior to the summer break, Cabinet ministers had ben asked to identify what were described as the “opportunities’ for their departments.

The Prime Minister has already stated that the UK government will not trigger Article 50, which is the official mechanism for beginning the process of leaving the EU, until the start of 2017 at the earliest. However there are growing rumours that the UK may not trigger the article until late 2017, after France and Germany have held general elections. From the moment that it does trigger the article, discussions over the terms of the UK’s exit will conclude in two years, unless all 28 member states of the EU agree to extend them. The UK voted to leave the EU, by a margin of 51.9% to 48.1%, in a referendum on 23 June and Mrs May, who had backed staying in the EU, became prime minister after David Cameron resigned in its aftermath. Two months on from the vote, the relationship that the UK will have with the EU after its exit, in terms of access to the EU internal market and obligations in regards to the freedom of movement, remain unclear.

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